Draft Bust Or Stud? This Is What First-Round QBs Are Doing Today

Football | 5/11/20

There is no position more important on the football field than the QB. With the right person under center, a play that appears dead in the water could be extended by a few seconds leading to a game-changing first down. Without Patrick Mahomes’ athleticism in the Super Bowl, who knows if the Chiefs could convert a critical 3rd and 15 with minutes to go to win the game. Not every QB taken in the first round turns into a stud, though. This is what has happened to the most hyped first-round QBs since 2010!

Sam Bradford Could Never Stay Healthy

sam bradford rams
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Taken with the first overall pick by the then St. Louis Rams in 2010, Sam Bradford signed a huge rookie contract worth $78 million. After a successful rookie season, injuries started mounting and the Rams were forced to start over.

Since then, Bradford has bounced around the league. He last played for the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. And while he hasn’t officially announced his retirement, he has seemingly disappeared from the public eye and can officially be labeled a draft bust.

EJ Manuel Became An College Analyst

ej manuel bills
Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images
Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills surprising some fans in 2013 when they made EJ Manuel the 16th overall pick in the draft. His scouting report read, “Scouts appreciate his leadership qualities and toughness, and hope he can improve on his consistency.”

Manuel went on to start ten disappointing games as a rookie. Over the next three seasons, he started another seven games before ultimately calling it a career. Today he works as a college football analyst for the ACC Network.

Patrick Mahomes Is A Superstar

patrick mahomes chiefs
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

With how fast Patrick Mahomes became a superstar, it’s hard to believe he was only drafted by the Chiefs in 2017. A gunslinger with a big arm at Texas Tech, Andy Reid liked what he saw from the college standout and moved up in the draft to take him with the 10th overall pick.

In 2018, Mahomes became the team’s starting QB, threw 50 touchdown passes, and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player. The next season he won the Super Bowl. Did we mention he’s still only 24 years old?

Paxton Lynch’s Career Was Doomed From The Beginning

paxton lynch broncos
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Looking to move on from Peyton Manning and find the next great Denver Broncos’ starting QB, John Elway drafted Paxton Lynch with the 26th overall pick in 2016. At the time, Sporting News wrote, “Based on film and projecting for the future, Paxton Lynch is the best quarterback in this NFL Draft. Period.”

Lynch started four games in two seasons and proved to be a poor decision-maker. Denver cut him loose in 2018 and he has since caught on as backup QB for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Lamar Jackson Is The Next Patrick Mahomes

lamar jackson ravens
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

When Lamar Jackson declared for the NFL Draft in 2018, he was told he should change positions from QB to WR. He refused, and the Ravens traded up to take him with the last pick in the first round.

Jackson became the team’s starting QB midway through his rookie season, winning a slew of games to get Baltimore in the playoffs. In 2019, Jackson continued to ascend, proving he was more than just a running QB. At the end of the year was named the league’s MVP. Could a Super Bowl trophy be due for him in year three?

Brandon Weeden Should Have Stuck To Baseball

brandon weeden cowboys
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Originally a baseball player in the Yankees farm system, Brandon Weeden went back to college late to change careers. The Cleveland Browns were hoping that Brandon Weeden’s advanced age and maturity would turn him into a stud starting QB right away.

The team took him with the 22nd overall pick in 2012 despite one noted drawback: “there are concerns about his ability to make sound decisions under pressure.” Two years later he was released, destined to finish his career as a backup QB.

Johnny Manziel Took His Talents To Canada

johnny manziel browns
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Known as a hard-partying rock star in college, Johnny Manziel’s scouting report entering the draft was a bit concerning: “He’s no guarantee, he’s a wild card.” That didn’t stop the Browns from taking a chance on him in 2014.

Two years into his NFL career, Manziel checked himself into rehab. With no teams in the United States interested in his services, he attempted to resurrect his career in Canada. When that flamed out he took a chance on the now-defunct AAF.

Teddy Bridgewater Worked His Way Back From Disaster

teddy bridgewater saints
Harry Aaron/Getty Images
Harry Aaron/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings found their franchise QB in 2014 when the took Teddy Bridgewater with the 32nd overall pick in the draft. Known for his football IQ, Bridgewater was exactly the kind of game manager the run-heavy offensive scheme demanded.

Then disaster struck. Bridgewater’s knee blew up in practice and he spent several years rehabbing from the injury. During that time, Minnesota was forced to move on, and Bridgewater ended up as Drew Brees’ backup in New Orleans. When Brees tore a ligament in his thumb in 2019, Teddy stepped in and went 5-0. Today he is the starting QB for the Carolina Panthers.

Tim Tebow Moved Onto Baseball

tim tebow broncos
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The legend of Tim Tebow in the NFL was as miraculous as it was short-lived. He was drafted by the Denver Broncos with the 25th overall pick in 2010 and although his stats were never good, he found ways to win games.

After two years in Denver, Tebow bounced around the league and even tried to learn other positions. Nothing seemed to work, though, and Tebow left the game to become an analyst. Most recently, Tebow returned to sports, signing a contract with the New York Mets to join their farm system.

Christian Ponder Is Living A More Private Life

christian ponder vikings
Leon Halip/Getty Images
Leon Halip/Getty Images

The 12th overall pick of the Minnesota Viking in the 2011 NFL Draft, Christian Ponder spent four seasons in purple. His second season was his best as he led the team to a 10-6 record. The next two years of his career was interrupted by injury.

Today, Ponder lives a more private life as a husband and father. He posts to social media about his family a lot but has not revealed his next professional endeavor yet.

Deshaun Watson Proved His Critics Wrong

deshaun watson texans
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

After winning a national title with Clemson, scouts had this to say about Deshaun Watson, “[interceptions] are worrisome…. At 6-2, 221, Watson doesn’t have ideal size, but he has the arm strength, toughness and athleticism to play for a long time.”

The negative outlook didn’t stop the Houston Texans from taking Watson the 12th overall pick in 2017. Since then, all he’s done is prove the critics wrong and become one of the league’s younger elite quarterbacks.

Mitchell Trubisky Is In “Prove It” Mode

mitchell trubisky bears
Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears historically have not had the best luck with starting quarterbacks. In 2017, the team was hoping to change the narrative when it drafted Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall pick.

Three years into the Trubisky experiment and the jury is still out. While his second season was strong, the third was injury-filled and disappointing. Heading into year four, the Bears are putting him in competition with Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles.

Kyler Murray Will Be Just Fine

kyler murray cardinals
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

After an up and down rookie season in 2019 learning the ropes, Kyler Murray’s future in the NFL is looking bright. At the end of the season, GM Steve Keim did everything he could to add talent around the young gunslinger, including trading for WR DeAndre Hopkins.

Heading into year two will tell us a lot about where Murray’s ceiling as a player is. Arizona clearly trusts him. After all, they traded away another former first-round just so they could take him!

Josh Rosen Fell To The Wayside

josh rosen cardinals
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

It’s hard not to feel bad for former first-round pick Josh Rosen. Drafted by the Cardinals, the team didn’t like their investment and upgraded to Kyler Murray after just one season.

Looking for a fresh start as a Miami Dolphin, Rosen instead lost the starting QB job to aging veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Heading into year three, it seems safe to assume that Rosen is destined for life as a backup.

Jake Locker’s Body Failed Him

jake locker titans
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The eighth overall pick by the Tennessee Titans in 2011, Jake Locker had the talent to play in the NFL, he just lacked the durability. Locker played for four injury-riddled seasons with the Titans and started 23 games before announcing his retirement from the NFL.

Today, Locker puts his family and faith above all else. He’s settled into a new life, although he hasn’t stayed away from football entirely. When he has time, he enjoys coaching.

Blake Bortles Is A Backup

blake bortles jaguars
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014, Blake Bortles had an up-and-down career that didn’t match his potential. After five seasons and one AFC Championship Game appearance (that fans blame him for losing), the team cut him loose.

Bortles then spent the 2019 season as the backup quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams. With Jared Goff entrenched as the starter in LA, we don’t see Blake having a career resurgence any time soon.

Jared Goff Turned Into A Franchise Star

jared goff rams
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Taken with the first overall pick by the Los Angeles Rams, Jared Goff appeared in over his head as a rookie. At the end of that season, the team fired head coach Jeff Fisher and brought in offensive wunderkind Sean McVay.

McVay instantly turned the career trajectory of Goff around. With his newfound skills, Goff helped lead the Rams to the Super Bowl, where they lost 13-3 to the New England Patriots. That offseason, Goff signed a $134 million extension.

Carson Wentz Has Trouble Staying Healthy

carson wentz eagles
Elsa/Getty Images
Elsa/Getty Images

Taken by the Philadelphia Eagles with the second overall pick in the 2016 draft, Carson Wentz has been great when he’s healthy, which has not been often. The year the Eagles won the Super Bowl, Wentz tore his ACL before the playoffs, and Nick Foles stepped into the starting job.

That didn’t stop the Eagles from giving Wentz a big contract, showing they had faith in him. In 2020, however, that faith was tested when the team drafted Jalen Hurts in the second round of the draft.

Marcus Mariota Lost His Job To Another First-Rounder

marcus mariota titans
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Taken with the second overall pick by the Titans in 2015, Marcus Mariota never blossomed into the franchise star the team hoped he would. Prior to the 2019 season, the team traded for Ryan Tannehill, another former first-round pick.

Tannehill consequently took over as the team’s starting QB midway through the season and nearly led them to the Super Bowl. Mariota was then released and signed with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Cam Newton’s Future Is In Question

cam newton panthers
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Taken with the first overall pick by the Carolina Panthers in 2011, Cam Newton ascended to become a star. In 2015, he not only led the Panthers to the Super Bowl, but he was also named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

Sadly, fortune has not shined on Newton in recent seasons. Because of his physical style of play, he has become injury-prone. A shoulder issue sidelined him for most of 2019, leading the team to release him and casting doubt on his NFL future.